NorthWest European waters "special area" effective 1 August 1999

Discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any oil tanker (regardless of tonnage) and any other ship over 400 gross tonnage will be prohibited in the North West European waters from 1 August 1999, under the 1997 amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78).

The North West European waters cover:

  • the North Sea and its approaches
  • the Irish Sea and its approaches
  • the Celtic Sea
  • the English Channel and its approaches and
  • part of the North East Atlantic immediately to the West of Ireland.

MARPOL 73/78 Annex I includes requirements to prevent the pollution of the marine environment by oil from ships. It includes measures to minimise harm from accidental spillages as well as measures to prevent or reduce operational discharges of oil.

Special areas under MARPOL 73/78 are established where the particular region has specific environmental concerns such as due to high density of shipping traffic. In these areas, more stringent discharge standards for the discharge of oily waters are applicable, while the littoral States concerned must provide adequate reception facilities for dirty ballast and other oily residues.

Other special areas under MARPOL Annex I which have been established and have taken effect are

  • the Antarctic Area,
  • Baltic Sea,
  • Black Sea and
  • the Mediterranean.